Vodafone
Mobile giant Vodafone was among the large companies to perform poorly.Reuters

The UK's top companies performed worse than expected in the year to July, with revenues rising just above inflation at 2.2%.

The two largest corporate sectors – food and drug retailers, and mobile telecoms – showed particularly sluggish growth, with overall gross profits rising at just 0.2%. Operating profits fell by 6.6%.

The data has been reported the Share Centre's Profit Watch Report. The retail stockbroker's report analyses raw data from the UK's largest 350 listed companies, and analyses and compiles it by sector and index.

"UK Plc revenues have crept just ahead of inflation, which is a weaker performance than we expected, given that the UK economy enjoyed a rapid recovery during the period," said the report's authors.

The strength of the pound is blamed for slashing export figures. Last week, the Office for National Statistics confirmed the continued sluggishness of the UK's exports sector.

The country's trade deficit widened again in July, with poor sales in non-EU markets partly to blame.

The continued standoff with Russia suggests that this is a problem that will run on.

The UK's midcap companies outperformed its larger, FTSE 100-listed rivals. Midcaps reported gross profit hikes of 5.1%, compared to the anaemic growth among the upper echelons.

Some of Britain's biggest listed firms were to the forefront of the poor annual performance. Tesco reported no sales growth, with mobile giant Vodafone only managing a 0.8% increase in revenue, year-on-year.

Just eight of the 20 industry sectors reported reported profit margin growth. General retailers were among those to have enjoyed a good year, with combined sales up 12.1%. Carphone Warehouse, Pets at Home and JD sports, all newcomers to the FTSE 350, spearheaded this growth.

Electricity also performed well, with revenues growing by 8.1% across the sector.

"The sun might be shining on the UK economy, but listed company profits are being left in the shade," said Helal Miah, investment research analyst at The Share Centre. "There have been a large number of profit warnings so far this year, and this has been borne out in our figures.

"While revenues are showing promising – if modest – growth," Miah continues, "they are not keeping pace with costs. It's mainly a problem for the large caps though. Midcaps are storming ahead of the top 100 at every level, from revenues to profits."

Despite weak reports, Tesco and Vodafone retained their places as the top UK stocks by revenue, followed by energy giant SSE, Sainsbury, BT, and WM Morrison.